See The Pattern [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

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Virgil: From what you wrote, I see that you think you have a problem. The first recognition is simple: you do not have a problem. You have a pattern. ~ David Robinson, The Seer

I’ve stared at this napkin for a long time wondering what to write. It’s not that I have nothing to say, it’s that I have too much to say. I’ve killed more than one dinner party going on and on and on about patterns.

In 2014 I published a book, The Seer. The first three chapters are about patterns of seeing, patterns of thinking. Patterns of self-story. So, rather than rewrite something that I have already written, here’s a small slice, an email conversation, from the first chapter of The Seer:

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Me: I realized that I think in patterns. I think the same stuff over and over. This is a puzzle: the act of looking for patterns opened my eyes. So, patterns reveal. And yet, later, when I became aware of the patterns of my thinking, I recognized that those patterns were like ruts or grooves. It’s as if I am playing the same song over and over again so no other music can come in. My thinking pattern, my rut, prevents me from seeing. So patterns also obscure. Make sense?

Virgil: Yes. It must seem like a paradox to you. Think of the song or rut as a story that you tell yourself. Your thoughts, literally, are a story that you tell yourself about yourself and the world; the more you tell this story the deeper the rut you create. So, a good question to ask is: what is the story that you want to tell? Are you creating the pattern that you desire to create? We will return to this many times. This is important: the story is not happening to you; you are telling it. The story can only control you if you are not aware that you are telling it.

 Me: Can you say more?

 Virgil: We literally ‘story’ ourselves. We are hard-wired for story. What we think is a narrative; this pattern (song) that rolls through your mind everyday is a story that you tell. You tell it. It defines what you see and what you do not see. What you think is literally what you see.

 There was a pause. That was a lot for me to take in. When I didn’t respond, he continued:

Virgil: So, what you think is nothing more than a story; it’s an interpretation. You move through your day seeing what you think – instead of what is there. You are not seeing the world, you are seeing your interpretation of the world. You are seeing from your rut and your rut is a pattern. So, your patterns of thinking, your rut, can obscure what you see. Make sense?

 Me: Yes. I guess 😉 So, when I started looking for patterns outside of me, I…stopped seeing from within my rut? I stopped assuming that I knew what I was seeing. So, I was capable of discovering new patterns and connections?

 Virgil: Yes, something like that. You said that when you looked for patterns you slowed down and felt that you could see. I would say it this way: you stopped moving through your world and for a brief period you were actually in your world. For a brief period you were no longer lost in thought but present with what was right in front of you. You suspended what you think you know so you started to see again. You were curious. To be curious is synonymous with “not knowing.”

 Me: Okay….

 Virgil: Humor me and entertain this notion: your thought, your story, is not passive. It is a creative act. What you think IS what you see. Most of the time people create what they see based on their rut. They see what they expect to see. To practice curiosity is to suspend the assumption of knowing. To practice curiosity requires us to step out of the rut. Stop assuming that you know and you gain the capacity to see beyond what you think.

 A glimmer of light pierced the dark recesses of my mind. Suddenly I was back in front of the Sphinx and I could see the answer to the riddle. It was so clear! I typed:

Me: Wait! Is this why I need to distinguish between problems and patterns? If I tell myself that I have a problem to solve, I am telling a certain kind of story. If I tell myself that I have a pattern to change, I am telling an entirely different kind of story. Is that true?

Virgil: Yes. It sounds too simple, doesn’t it? A problem is a story. It is a lens that filters your sight. A problem does not exist unless you insist that it is there. You say that you are an entrepreneur. How many great products and services were the results of an accident in the lab? How many innovations were missed because the ‘solution’ did not fit the ‘problem’ as identified? A problem is a rut that separates you from possibilities. On the other hand, a pattern connects you to possibilities. See the pattern not the problem.

 

[go here for a fun Escher-activity about pattern to use during this time of social distancing]

 

read Kerri’s blog post about THE NAPKIN

 

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the seer ©️ 2014 david robinson

Harness The Energy [on KS Friday]

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Lately, in my new role as co-managing director of a performing arts space, I find myself repeating the same simile/metaphor over and over and over and over… (insert Kerri’s eye roll). This week, my favorite-simile-repetition goes something like this: communication is like a river, it needs proper banks if it is going to flow. Without banks, it spills out all over the place flooding basements and creating havoc.

Needless to say, our job thus far is largely about placing proper banks on this flood plain of communication. Placing proper banks, at first, creates consternation and resistance. No one likes a limit until the limit works in their favor, until the constraint makes life easier.

Boundaries. Limits. Constraints. It is what I adore about the arts: freedom of artistic expression is the result of discipline, technique, and practice. And, the heart-desire of discipline, technique and practice is unfettered play. It is a paradox. It is boundaries placed on a rushing torrent so it can flow. The harnessing of creative energy. Communication is an intentional art and art is communication with an intention.

Kerri’s BOUNDARIES is a bubbling brook, bright with the morning sun, tumbling and playful within its banks. It seems so easy, her flow. But I know the truth. This ease and flow, this call to put your feet in the brook and rest for awhile with the sun on your face, comes from the years and years of hours and hours and hours of practice. Boundaries. A riverbank, a limit that will work in your favor. It is the creative flow through a heart that desires to play and play and play.

 

BOUNDARIES on the album RIGHT NOW is available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about BOUNDARIES

 

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boundaries/right now ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood

Bust Yourself [on Merely A Thought Monday]

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As you know, I am a lover of the paradox. Among my favorite incongruities in this American culture is the hyper-celebration of the individual amidst the hyper-pressure to swim in the mainstream. To belong by standing out. To be distinct by shopping the brand stores. Within our national schizophrenia, we are, each of us, a festival of quirks, a riot of split intentions.

I laughed out loud when 20 told us his grocery store story. Standing in an aisle of hundreds of soap brands; ice-blue, blossom-pink, orange-orange, lemon-yellow, cool lilac… stacked taller than most people can reach, 20 carefully scrutinized all of the bottles. He gasped! He spotted a bottle of dish soap that seemed to have an ounce more in it! Elated, he looked left and right to make certain no other shopper had yet seen what he saw. With stealth, he reached way to the back of the shelf to snag his prize. The hunter trapped his game and wrestled it into his basket. He quickly sped from the aisle putting distance between him and other dish-soap-hunters. “There must be something wrong with me!” he exclaimed laughing at himself.

A mountain of choices, an ounce of triumph. Do you recognize it? Life lived in the paradox. It is in our national dna.

It makes for a festival of beautiful quirks. A riot of split intentions. We laugh when we bust ourselves standing in the paradox. You’ll know you are there when through your amusement you exclaim, “There must be something wrong with me.”

 

read Kerri’s blog post on SOMETHING WRONG

 

 

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Choose To See Them [on Merely A Thought Monday]

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I love my morning ritual. Babycat bumps my legs, guides me to his bowl. DogDog springs from his crate for a brief pet before bounding outside to clear his zone of squirrels. It is the same everyday. It is always new and different. Both/and.

Something happens when the expectation flips, when the wondrous is sought not in the monumental but in the small, day-to-day experiences. I know it reads like a cliche’ but it is no less true. My morning ritual, your commute, the day’s chore, in truth, is never the same. Each day is new even when we brand it with ‘routine.’

The wondrous sparkles in the routine as well as the profound. Doing the dishes today is not the same as doing them yesterday. It seems obvious. This day of life is not the same as yesterday. Another cliche’ with a truthful center: ‘sameness’ is a lens, an expectation worn on the eyes of the mind. It dulls life before life happens. It is the expectation of tedium. Why expect tedium? Why cultivate apathy? The marvelous, the wondrous becomes visible everywhere when we remove the same-old-same-old lens, the been-there-done-that expectation.

Wondrous things are everywhere. All we need do is choose to see them.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about WONDROUS THINGS

 

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Wait [on DR Thursday]

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morsel of the painting They Wait

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” – Aristotle

My studio often serves as a retreat, a place to escape the noise and nonsense-of-the-day. It is a quiet place. A sanctuary. I recoup perspective when I step into it.

Lately, when I am painting, I find myself pondering the paradox of living in the time of Google. I rarely have a conversation these days that doesn’t include a quick dip into Google to check a fact, pull up a statistic, check spelling or a date or data. We rely on it. We can investigate or verify anything in an instant. Yet – and here’s the paradox – no amount of data or information seems to put a dent in people’s beliefs. In fact, we’ve learned, that confronting a belief with data that contradicts it will serve only to reinforce the belief. Information threatens, and so, is useless.

My dad once told me in a fit of frustration that I had educated myself into stupidity. I question everything. He grew up in a simpler time, in a smaller town. I understand the opposite to be true, the path out of stupidity IS education. The capacity to question, to doubt, to consider, to compare what is said with what is provable, is what makes us powerful. Propaganda is only useful in a society that does not or will not question what it is being told.

Collaboration, cooperation, the capacity to organize, to contemplate and pursue possibilities, to unify disparate points of view is only possible in a mind that doesn’t fear being wrong – in a mind that opens (chooses to open) and isn’t constrained by fear of what it doesn’t understand. Fear makes us stupid. To be educated doesn’t mean to be rigid or buried in knowledge. It means the willingness to question, the ability to look, experience, to see, to reach. To learn.  Fear blinds. Curiosity illuminates.

This painting tumbled out of my Google meditation. It is a sketch, a quick gesture. I used to tell my students that daydreaming was an essential skill. Looking out the window and pondering, imagining,…daydreaming is the first step of invention. Waiting, too, is also an essential skill. It is invaluable when entertaining a thought….

 

 

 

read Kerri’s blog post about THEY WAIT

 

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they wait ©️ 2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Be The Storm [on Chicken Marsala Monday]

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“It is a sacred art that deals with revelation rather than observation.”~Jamake Highwater, The Language Of Vision

Tom used to say, “A writer writes and a painter paints.” Those are wise words grounded in the mechanics of art. Simply show up. Do the thing. Nuts and bolts. That’s the first step. Show up at the easel, on the dance floor, at the piano, at the writers desk and begin. Tom was a teacher and over his life heard an overabundance of excuses, reasons ‘why not.’ Said another way, he advised his students to stop thinking about it and do it. “Get out of your own way,” he’d counsel. That’s the second step. Horatio calls this step ‘trust-your-work.”

Show up. Do the thing. Get out of your own way. Trust your work.

And, what happens with trust? When the artist can get out of his/her own way, the sacred art, the art of revelation becomes possible. It’s a beautiful paradox. Show up and get out of the way. And, between those two actions, those crackling oppositions, a greater force, inspiration, gathers and releases like a storm.

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read Kerri’s blog post about INSPIRATION IS A GATHERING STORM

 

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inspiration is a gathering storm ©️ 2016/18 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 

Split A Second [on KS Friday]

inasplitsecond SONG BOX copyEarlier this week I wrote about our visit to Arches National Park and the paradox of presence: it is only when we recognize how very small we are that we are capable of standing in the immensity of this moment, the present. I called it a joining. In her song, In A Split Second, Kerri calls it, “walking that thin line.”

It is possible to put down the list of to-dos. It is possible to stop dragging along that big bag of the past. It is possible to be here, where you are, in the immensity of this moment of life. Give yourself a gift, be where you are, and let Kerri help you walk that thin line.

 

IN A SPLIT SECOND on the album AS SURE AS THE SUN, available in iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about IN A SPLIT SECOND

www.kerrianddavid.com

 

in a split second/as sure as the sun ©️ 2002 kerri sherwood